The recent report made by Rozza Rothman against people from the Peninsula insulting Sabah in Facebook postings reminds us again of the long and unceasing attitude of Malayans looking down on Sabah and Sabahans.
This is due mainly to the misconception created by the failure of the efforts of national integration and national unity made under the National Unity and Integration Department (NUID) which has been operating since 1969 (after the May 13 riots), spending hundreds of millions of ringgits trying to Malaysians in the Peninsula and those in Borneo. The Malaysian blog reported in July 2006 that “Probably 99% of Malaysians have not even heard of the very existence of the national unity and integration department. Ironically, as its name suggests, it is the one entrusted to 'integrate' and 'unite' the people and therefore should have been very familiar to the public!” the writer even commented, “"What the devil have you been doing all these years except collect your monthly pay?" The biggest problem with the NUID is plain ineptness, lack of creativy and drive, as well as the over-dominance of Peninsular officers who have the attitude that in the whole process, it is the Borneons that need to be rehabilitated from the wild, to be civilized so they can be on par with the more civilized Malayans. There is less thought about rehabilitating the Peninsular Malaysians into learning about Borneo which to them is unimportant and not even part of the real Malaysia.
Ever since the beginning people in the Peninsula had always looked upon Sabah and Sarawak as the nation’s wild side, areas covered with trees occupied by monkeys, pythons, crocodiles and even wild men living on treetops. The Facebook insults reported by Rozza included comments saying Sabahans still live on trees. In the past Peninsular teachers coming to teach in Sabah used to shop for Panadols and toothpastes in large amounts in their hometowns before they boarded the planes to Kota Kinabalu because they believed those items can’t be found here. In one TV live interview Datuk Dr. Maximus Ongkili was called by a girl from Penang who asked what monetary currency was used in Sabah. Sabahans coming to KL are asked, “Bila sampai Malaysia?” or worse, “When is Sabah going to join Malaysia?” I have friends who had been asked to please go ahead and enjoy the fish-head curry because “You people don’t have this in Sabah”. The list of blatant ignorance runs long and wide, proving how ignorant people are in the Peninsula. Even in the age of the Internet when surfers can easily see tens of thousands of pictures of Sabah online, they still really, really believe we live on trees.
Other the 43-year failure of the NUID, this intolerable ignorance is also caused by the timidity and cowardice of our Members of Parliament who act like wet mice in Kuala Lumpur, bowing and smiling to the Malayans as if to admit they are actually less civilized. They allow themselves to be looked down upon to curry favours. They forget that one of their duties as the representatives of Sabahans is to educate the ignorant people of the Peninsular that Sabah is a beautiful and a more peaceful place where Peninsular teachers and civil servants come to get married and settle down because of the beauty of the state.
They need to shout in parliament every now and then to remind the people there that they owe Sabah and Sarawak for the wealth and prosperity being enjoyed by them. The fine highways, airports and buildings (including the Petronas Towers) are there because of oil from the Borneo states! This is so ironic because Sabah, the producer of this precious black gold is mired in poverty, having terribly bad roads while they have four-lane highways even to gambling haven, Genting Highlands. Our MPs need to shout in Parliament, “Jangan lupa orang Sabah yang kasi makan kamu!” to shame them into recognising our contribution to their prosperity there which is like 20 years ahead of us.
I urge the police to take serious action on Rozza’s report and inform us of their progress. Soon, someone need to make a police report on the gigantic failure of the NUD, even to sue it, or at least to audit its performance and penalize it for decades of failure to unite Malaysians. It needs to explain why Malaysians today are more polarized than ever before and why it is not taking any action against those causing racial and religious disunity, especially people like Ibrahim Ali who is record for threatening to kill Christians and calling for a ban on Christians from teaching in schools. If they can’t do the job the NUID should be closed down to save precious money.